Undergraduate and Graduate Courses

Dr. Oldfield class

More than 3,500 students and faculty visit the farm annually to take classes. Over 20 courses for undergraduate and graduate levels typically utilize the indoor and outdoor facilities at the farm which includes, classrooms, labs, research greenhouse space, research ponds and more.

The farm owned shuttle bus is intended to help students, faculty and staff utilize the farm and connect the main campus with the farm site in Hunting Valley.

Transportation has been key to expanding academic activities on site. Courses include the fields of terrestrial and aquatic ecology, herpetology, entomology, geology, engineering, Nutrition, SAGES Seminars and visual arts, as well as training courses for nurses and language immersion programs.


Some specific classes have included:

Genes And Evolution (Biol 214)

Students enrolled in Genes and Evolution (BIOL 214) come to the farm for their biodiversity lab in Fall and Spring. With more than 300 students, 18 sections of 24 students came for a two-week period, collecting insects from the fields and analyzing the diversity and richness of species in various microhabitats within the maple-beech forest.

Introduction To Photography Studio I (Arts 220)

The Art Studio Program offers Introduction to Photography Studio I (ARTS 220) at the farm with instructor Alexander Aitken. Students spent a day on the farm taking photographs for their assigned projects. Students work on transfiguration of common space, personification, and multiple figure-ground relationships.

Introductory Entomology (Biol 318l)

The Introductory Entomology (BIOL 318L) is offered during the fall. Students come to the farm several times to collect insects and build a collection for the class. Class meetings alternated with some structured lectures and laboratory exercises.

Hydrogeology (Geol 321/421)

Hydrogeology (GEOL 321/421) class is offered during the fall semester. Students learned basic and applied concepts pertaining to the occurrence and movement of groundwater, studying definitions, basic equations, wells, and applications to a variety of geologic settings. The 15 students visited the farm's research water wells during a field trip in October to make field measurements and collect data.

Geophysical Field Methods And Laboratory (Geol 330/430)

Steve Hauck, Department of Geological Sciences associate professor, come to the farm three weekends in September and October with students enrolled in Geophysical Field Methods and Laboratory. The class conducted experiments in the field between the ponds and the pumping wells and nearby walking/running paths.

Principles Of Ecology (Biol 351/451)

This course focuses on spatial and temporal relationships involving organisms and the environment at individual, population, and community levels. The course explored spatial and temporal relationships involving organisms and the environment at individual and community levels. An underlying theme was Darwinian evolution through natural selection with an emphasis on organism adaptations to biotic and abiotic environments. Case Western Reserve studies and models illustrated ecological principles and their applicability to ecosystem conservation. The laboratory portion of the class complemented the lecture material and involved hypotheses-driven investigations in field and greenhouse settings at the farm. Dr. Jean Burns is the instructor of this course.

Aquatic Ecology Lab (Biol 339)

This course combines both field and laboratory analyses to characterize and compare the major components of the University Farm's ponds. The instructor for this course is Deborah Vallance, Instructor, Department of Biology.

The course investigated the physical, chemical, and biological limnology of freshwater ecosystems. Emphasis was placed on identifying the organisms inhabiting these systems and their ecological interactions. It combined both field and laboratory analyses to characterize and compare the major components of the research ponds at the farm.

Introduction To Ecology And Field Biology (Biol 352)

This course is an introduction to the methods used to study the interactions that determine the abundance and distribution of organisms. Heavy emphasis is placed on experimentation and data collection in the field to investigate a diversity of terrestrial and aquatic habitats at University Farm.

Ichthyology (Biol 338)

Biology of fishes. Students learned fundamental understanding of the evolutionary history and systematics of fishes to provide a context within which they can address aspects of biology including anatomy, physiology (e.g., in species that change sex; osmoregulation in freshwater vs. saltwater), and behavior (e.g., visual, auditory, chemical, electric communication; social structures), ecology, and evolution (e.g., speciation). They will explore the biodiversity of fishes around the world, with emphasis on Ohio species, by examining preserved specimens, observing captive living specimens, and observing, capturing, and identifying wild fishes in their natural habitats.

Ecophysiology of Global Change (Biol 353)

Global change is an emerging threat to human health and economic stability. Rapid changes in climate, land use, and prevalence of non-native species generate novel conditions outside the range of typical conditions under which organisms evolved. Already we are witnessing the global redistribution of plants and animals, changes in the timing of critical life cycle events, and in some cases local extinction of populations. This course explores the impacts of global change on biological systems at levels from individuals to ecosystems; among animals, plants and microbes; across ecological to evolutionary timescales; and from local to global spatial scales. Throughout, physiology is emphasized as a core driver of biological responses to global change. Traditional lectures will be accompanied by discussions of primary literature articles. The laboratory component will involve the development of an independent project at the University Farm, and dissemination of results through traditional (e.g. written paper) and new (e.g. podcast) media. 

Raku Ceramic Workshop (Arts 399 And Arts 602)

Raku Ceramic Workshops are held for two weeks during the month of June at Valley Ridge Farm. Program instructor is Professor Tim Shuckerow, Art Education and Art Studio director. The course explores the properties of clay, experimental hand-building forming techniques, and the Raku firing process. Art projects include ceramic vessels, sculpture, and masks. The class also utilizes the ceramic studio at Valley Ridge Farm.

During the spring and fall, Martha Lois, Art Studio/Art Education lecturer, held one-day Raku Ceramic sessions for students in her ceramics courses (ARTS 214/314) at Valley Ridge Farm. The sessions focused on hands-on building techniques and the development of sensitivity to design and form. Farm transportation funds were used so that students could attend classes at the farm.


The Dorothy Ebersbach Academic Center For Flight Nursing

Two nurses working with victim on a stretcher during CWRU Flight Nursing Summer Camp

The Dorothy Ebersbach Academic Center for Flight Nursing at CWRU holds a Summer Camp each year at the farm for acute care nurse practitioners, flight nurses, and emergency service personnel in emergency response. The camp is the only one of its kind in the country.

The mass casualty response drill included more than 100 volunteers and staff. Students were able to use their advanced clinical decision-making skills as they assisted the "victims" of a massive simulated explosion at a remote area (picnic area and creek ravines). Open to nurses, physicians, pilots, firefighters and paramedics, the camp provided training exercises to prepare teams for treating critical patients in unstructured environments, such as those following natural disasters. The students came from Colorado, California, Texas, Arizona, New York, Florida, and Wisconsin, and as far away as Japan.

The week-long hands-on training course included mass casualty scene response; pediatric trauma and obstetric emergencies; advanced airway and extrication; chest tube, central line placement, and suturing labs using high-tech simulated patients; hazardous materials response; flight safety; landing zone preparation and helicopter simulation.

Weekend Immersion Foreign Language Course

Students who study foreign languages at Case Western Reserve University enroll in a weekend immersion course at the farm. The event takes place at the Pink Pig and students hike trails, cook, converse, and play sports and games, all in the target language they study. German, Spanish, Russian, French and Japanese classes usually offer these immersion program.